End to high-pressure energy selling in sight: MEDIA RELEASE

A new policy announcement from Labor ahead of this Saturday’s state election proposes banning door-to-door sales, telemarketing sales and sales performance bonuses for energy.  

“Many Victorians are rightfully annoyed by pushy telemarketers and door-to-door salespeople. But it’s the most vulnerable in our community, including the elderly, who can suffer the most from being signed up to bad deals that they don’t understand”, said Gerard Brody, CEO of Consumer Action Law Centre. 

Consumer Action has long called for a ban on unsolicited selling across all goods and services. Recent Banking Royal Commission hearings shone a light on egregious telemarketing practices and sales incentives among some life insurers, demonstrating the need to ban the practice. 

“It’s good that a Labor state government will ban this practice in the energy sector, and we call on all other parties to follow suit”, said Mr Brody. 

Consumer Action also welcomed the other parts of the ALP regulatory reform package including: 

  • New investigatory and enforcement powers for the Essential Services Commission, including increased civil penalties up to $1 million for systemic wrongful disconnection; 
  • A greater focus for the Essential Services Commission on enforcement, including a new Commissioner focusing on litigation as well as a litigation fighting fund; and 
  • A review to ensure that customers on concessions get the best deal, and further restricting retailers’ ability to back-bill if they have problems with their billing systems. 

Mr Brody said that these reforms would build on the recent announcement that a re-elected ALP government would re-regulate energy prices to prevent egregiously high standing offers, as well as act to ensure people whose bill discounts have expired don’t get gouged for their loyalty. 

Labor’s renewed focus on wrongful disconnections is also very welcome. In 2016/17, 28,628 Victorian households had their electricity disconnected, and 17, 494 households were disconnected from their gas supply. Every instance of disconnection is another family cut off from keeping food in the fridge, their phone charged, or their house cool in summer.   

“This new reform package, including a greater focus on enforcing the law through litigation, will contribute to greater accountability for energy retailers and fairer outcomes for the community”. 

Read Knock it Off!, our recent report into door-to-door sales and consumer harm

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